Scottie Pippen's No. 33 was raised to the rafters Friday night in Chicago, where it will forever hang in the shadow of Michael Jordan's No. 23.
There are a lot of ways we could remember dear old Scottie. Six-time champion. Master of the all-around game. Lockdown defender for the ages. Prototype for the athlete everyone's trying to find in today's NBA, a 6-7 small forward able to play any of four positions.
But you always come back to one word, a second-fiddle moniker that will stick with Pippen, fairly or unfairly, for as long as his No. 33 hangs alongside the Bulls' six championship banners from the '90s.
No discussion of Pippen's career would be complete without a reference to what has become known as the "1.8 Seconds," when Pippen refused to reenter the final moments of a 1994 playoff game against the New York Knicks after coach Phil Jackson drew up a play for Toni Kukoc to take the final shot.
Before Pippen had ever won a championship, his defining postseason moment came in 1990 when a migraine headache kept him out of a Game 7 loss against the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals.
"Well, there's always a little bit of regret. But things happen in life, different situations, and that was just a learning situation for me," Pippen told ESPN.com. "From the migraine to sitting out the 1.8, I learned to be better about taking care of my body and preparing myself to be a professional every day."
Pippen, now a commentator for ESPN on NBA broadcasts, discussed all facets of his career and his legacy in a lengthy interview at the network's Bristol, Conn., headquarters, and was asked if it was unfair for people to reference those two instances -- the 1.8 seconds and the migraine -- when defining his career.
"No, I don't think it's unfair," Pippen said. "I mean, if that's the worst that you can find, I feel like I did pretty good."
Pretty good indeed, as No. 33's numbers attest.
Aside from the six championships, Pippen was named one of the game's 50 all-time greatest players in 1996. He was a member of the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic teams in 1992 and 1996, made the All-NBA First Team three times, was selected to the All-Star Game seven times and was named to the All-Defensive First Team for eight consecutive seasons from 1992-99.
To Pippen, and to those who follow the game closely, those All-Defensive honors define him as well as anything.
"When I look at my career, that's really what I was about, defending. I was a guy that had a lot of tools and could do a lot of other things, but my main thing was really controlling the defensive end of the court, really sort of captaining my teammates and communicating. Those are the things that made me not only just a great individual defender but a great team defender, as well," Pippen said.
His defining defensive moment may have come in Game 6 of the 1997 finals against Utah when he tipped Bryon Russell's inbounds pass as the Jazz were trying to tie the game with five seconds left. Pippen knocked the ball ahead to Kukoc, who sealed the title with a slam.
Pippen spent 17 seasons in the NBA -- 12 with the Bulls, one with the Rockets and four with Portland -- registering career averages of 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 1,178 games. He is 40th on the all-time scoring list (18,940) and fourth in career steals (2,307), and he made the playoffs every year he played in the league except his last (2003-04) when he played in 23 games for Chicago alongside current Bulls Tyson Chandler, Kirk Hinrich and Jannero Pargo.
When Pippen entered the NBA in 1987 as the fifth overall pick of the draft, an unknown from Central Arkansas, a school almost no one had heard of, he joined a Bulls franchise that hadn't won a playoff series in 12 years. In each of Jordan's first three seasons, Chicago had been knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, twice by sweeps.
In each of Pippen's first three seasons, the Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs by Detroit, but they broke through in 1991 and completed a sweep of the Pistons in Detroit -- a victory Pippen recalls as the fondest of any of his 208 career playoff games.
The Bulls won their first championship in 1991, and that is the fondest of his title memories.
"Every series that we played in was very tough. We felt like we played against the best teams out there, and we beat the Pistons and then we had to face the Lakers," he said. "We ended up going through the best."
Pippen believes he was at his peak during the time Jordan left the Bulls to pursue a baseball career (from 1993-95). His 29-point, 11-rebound, four-steal performance at the 1994 All-Star game in Minneapolis remains one of the greatest performances in the history of the league's annual midseason showcase.
Pippen left the Bulls in the infamous breakup of the 1998 championship team, spending one unhappy season in Houston -- he helped force his departure there by ripping Charles Barkley's commitment level after the Rockets' first-round playoff exit -- and four more in Portland. His Trail Blazers' tenure included a Game 7 team meltdown in 2000 against which all future Game 7 meltdowns will be measured, with the Blazers blowing a 15-point fourth-quarter lead against the Lakers to miss a chance to advance to the NBA Finals (L.A. began its threepeat that year).
"I really liked Portland a lot, and that one really sticks out a lot because it would have given me an opportunity to win a championship after leaving Chicago. That's the closest I ever got," said Pippen, who believes management overreacted to the loss and made a monumental mistake by trading Jermaine O'Neal for Dale Davis, sending the franchise on a rapid downward spiral.
"Oh, it had a huge carryover. They busted the team up, and really, it took the whole franchise down. They still haven't recovered from it yet."
But Pippen's Portland tenure will endure only as a footnote to his career.
He was a member of the Bulls, first and foremost, and if he had it to do over again he wouldn't change a thing -- even if it comes at the cost of having the sidekick label attached to him for all eternity.
"To be successful, it takes two," Pippen said. "And I feel it was a very unique situation to play with the greatest player to ever play the game. Why would I ever want to change that?"
For the entire interview, click here.
Chris Sheridan, a national NBA reporter for the past decade, covers the league for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.
Photo credits: 1. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images, 2. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images, 3. AP/Jack Smith, 4. AP/Michael Conroy, 5. Vincent LaForet/AFP/Getty Images, 6. Andy Hayt/NBAE/Getty Images, 7. Central Arkansas, 8. AP/Susan Ragan,